This is a depiction of Brighton under attack. It is by the court draughtsman Anthony Anthony, who would have worked from locally supplied information. It shows the French attack on Brighton in 1514. In 1511, King Henry VIII (1491–1547), urged by Cardinal Wolsey, joined his father–in–law King Ferdinand II of Aragón, Pope Julius II, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, the Swiss cantons, and the Venetians in the a war known as the Holy League, against France. In 1542 war with France resumed and this map – which recreates the French attack of 1514 – was executed because of the real and present threat of another such invasion. England’s fears were realised when, on July 19 1545, the French entered the Solent and landed on the Isle of Wight. The presence of the English Navy and the dangerous currents in the area deterred the French from attempting to capture Portsmouth and by August the imminent threat was over.
The map reveals that it is not contemporary with the raid it depicts, as the ship types depicted date from after 1514. Details include the defending forces advancing down the road to the beach and a lit beacon that served to alert the locality.
- Article by:
- Ann Payne
- Military and maritime
Documenting national defence was a key purpose of topographical drawings. Ann Payne explores examples of military art in the British Library’s collections.
- Article by:
- Anthony Gerbino
- Military and maritime, Science and nature
The first important transformation of English medieval design practice occurred in a military context, during the reign of Henry VIII. Pioneering plans, surveys and designs by leading Tudor engineers are housed in the British Library, particularly within Sir Robert Cotton’s manuscript collection. Anthony Gerbino, Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Manchester, explores further.